Re-Gen Waste congratulates Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council on Green Bin decision
Elected Council members voted unanimously in favour of extending the green recycling bin service to every household across the Borough, following an overwhelming response to a public consultation carried out last summer, on the preferred option for introducing a fully harmonised kerbside recycling service.
According to Joseph Doherty, Managing Director of Re-Gen Waste; “Convenience, simplicity, education and value for money, are key to increasing council recycling rates. Householders want one recycling bin for convenience, they don’t want to struggle with cracked boxes, missing lids, litter and mess.”
He also advises ratepayers in Council areas throughout the UK, who are unhappy with their waste collection system, to play an active role in the decision-making process and persevere until they are satisfied, they have been listened to.
Back in March 2019, a Northern Ireland wide recycling poll, commissioned by Re-Gen, revealed that 35% of householders in Armagh rated bins being too small as the biggest issue they had with their collection service.
Of those who only recycled when convenient for them, 38% said they would recycle more if they had one bin for all mixed dry recycling and of those who complained, 72% had asked for their recycling capacity to be doubled.
These survey results were backed up by a public consultation commissioned by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council throughout July and August 2020, where 85% of 9,563 residents who completed the survey, opted for the green bin, which takes all mixed dry recycling. There are c.80,000 households in the ABC Council area, so this sample size was a significant indicator of opinion.
Mr Doherty said: “The surveys indicate that prioritising simplicity and convenience is the best approach to ensuring a high participation level in household recycling, which can be achieved with commingling in one recycling bin.
“Household friendly commingling schemes are more preferable to residents than pre-sort box schemes and Councils working with well invested MRF’s that continue to update their processing ability through changes in technology, are able to meet the highest levels of recycling quality standards and are actively improving their recycling rates.
“The quality standards that can be achieved with automated sorting plants and artificial intelligence, ensure recovered materials are of a high quality, suitable for local manufacturers, such as Huhtamaki and UK manufacturing sectors,” he said.
The top five Councils with the highest household dry recycling rates in Northern Ireland (DAERA LAC Municipal Waste Report (2018/19), use a commingled service including glass. They also have the highest landfill diversion rates, which Joseph says; “is great news for ABC Council, their ratepayers and the environment.
“It takes six times longer to collect and sort at the kerbside, so using a commingled collection service is the most efficient waste collection system for Local Authorities and is the biggest cost saver for them.
“A box system is inflexible and too costly to react to operational issues and future material changes, as experienced during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The commingled bin system continued with no impact to the householder, whereas temporary collection measures were introduced to the kerbside box sort system, to reduce direct handling of materials by staff.
“Householders could only recycle one material per box, per week, so they chose what material they would recycle and subsequently, the remainder of their recyclable waste went to the black bin. All of these changes had to be communicated to householders, which undoubtedly led to a lot of confusion and storage issues.”
He also pointed to the fact that if the EPR and DRS schemes are introduced in 2023, some of the pre-sort box scheme systems would become obsolete anyway. “If around 20 per cent of recyclates will be diverted from the residual waste collection and treatment/disposal, Councils with pre-sort boxes would lose most revenue and a lot of value, from drinks containers being diverted from recycling,” he said.